Carnival Announces Massive Advances in Sustainability

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Carnival Corporation, the world’s largest cruise operator, released its annual sustainability report today, showcasing the company’s efforts to achieve its goals for 2030 and 2050. 

Sustainability has become a big business in the cruise industry in recent years, and for a good reason. For many years the cruise lines took a liberal approach to environmental concerns. However, before 2050, the cruise industry has agreed to become fully carbon neutral, a goal that seems achievable for the cruise company.

Carnival’s Aggressive Roadmap

In Carnival Corporation’s annual sustainability report called ‘Sustainable from Ship to Shore,’ the cruise company reports it is well underway to achieve its 2030 goals, a part of the greater 2050 aspirations. In 2022, as almost 100% of Carnival Corporation’s full fleet returned to guest cruise operations, the company made sustainability a prime goal.

Carnival achieved a 50% single-use plastic item reduction in 2021, achieved a 30% food waste reduction per person in 2022. That same year, there was a 50% reduction in tiny particles released into the air compared to the amount released in 2015.

Carnival Cruise Line Ship
Photo Credit: nestor gugulan / Shutterstock

“As the global leader in the cruise industry, we are setting the pace with the industry’s smartest solutions for sustainable cruising that will help deliver on our aggressive roadmap to reduce our carbon impact, maximize our use of resources and further enhance our operations to be even more efficient by 2030,” said Josh Weinstein, CEO and chief climate officer for Carnival Corporation. 

“Our future depends on us being good corporate citizens and stewards of the environment, because without the incredible communities, healthy marine ecosystems, and scenic spaces we operate in, it would be impossible to deliver unforgettable happiness to our guests through extraordinary cruise vacations.”

Advancements in Decarbonization Pathway

Carnival has been adding new ships and guest capacity at breakneck speed since 2011. Yet, it has managed to create a situation where it now produces fewer greenhouse gases than in 2011. According to the sustainability report, the company is the only one to do so.

It means that Carnival Corporation is now well underway to achieve a 40% reduction in carbon intensity by 2030 versus the results achieved in 2008. There will even be a 20% reduction in 2023 compared to the emissions produced per unit in 2019.

Future Fuel: What Is an LNG-Powered Cruise Ship?

Those results come from various initiatives that Carnival has introduced in the last years, including fleet optimization, such as getting rid of older, polluting vessels; introducing energy efficiency; making itineraries more efficient; and introducing new technologies and alternative fuels.

Carnival Jubilee Cruise Ship
Photo Courtesy: Meyer Werft

Carnival also made significant investments into making ships more efficient and eco-friendly by introducing upgrades to HVAC automation, variable speed drives on pumps and fans, and smart LED lighting, which add up to an expected 5% fuel saving per ship and $100 million in annual savings.

57% of Carnival’s fleet is now capable of using shore power. At the same time, more ships are outfitted with the Air Lubrication System, which helps ships glide on a curtain of air bubbles with about 5% less friction, generating fuel consumption savings and reduced emissions. Five ships have ALS installed, six are in progress, and eight are on order.

It’s not just upgrades to ships, Carnival is actively participating in creating and trying out new technologies. 

Pioneering New Technologies & Alternative Fuels

To achieve their ambitious 2050 goals, cruise lines must explore innovative ways to power their ships. One such approach is using LNG, with Carnival leading the way with eight LNG-capable ships in service and three more on order.

Additionally, Carnival is piloting the world’s largest battery installation on a passenger ship, using a first-of-its-kind lithium-ion battery storage system on AIDAprima, and pioneering fuel cell technology that utilizes methanol-derived hydrogen on AIDAnova.

AIDA LNG Cruise Ship
Photo Credit: MartinLueke / Shutterstock

The company is also testing biofuels as an alternative to fossil fuels, with successful trials underway on AIDAprima and Holland America Line’s Volendam.

Reducing the Amount of Waste Generated by Cruise Ships

Of course, reducing the emissions from cruise ships is one thing. However, cruise ships remain a consumer paradise known for excessive consumption. Here as well, Carnival is making significant efforts to reduce the amount of waste that ships produce each day.

“Our approach to sustainability is backed by science and driven by data, which allows us to take decisive actions that make a truly meaningful impact and inspire real change,” said Weinstein. 

Carnival reduced food waste per person by more than 30% in 2022 compared to 2019 and set a new goal to reduce food waste by 40% per person by 2025. The cruise company installed over 600 food biodigesters on ships to break down and liquefy uneaten food and installed 25-plus food dehydrators across the fleet, which reduces waste volume by upwards of 90%.

The use of single-use plastics has also been reduced by more than 50%, removing over 500 million single-use items since 2018 and replacing them with eco-friendly alternatives. 

Weinstein: “It is a monumental undertaking that requires collective focus and tireless dedication of our entire organization. We are incredibly proud of the considerable progress we have made so far and look forward to continuing our collective work together toward a sustainable future for cruising and tourism.”

Carnival Corporation has indeed set a course toward a much more sustainable future. However, there is still a long way to go before we can start calling the cruise industry a green industry. 

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